K. Durant and R. Westbrook (OKC): 72 points (25-45 FG, 6-10 3PT, 16-20 FT), 15 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals vs. Nuggets
In scratching out a close win over the Nuggets in Game One, Oklahoma City needed every point it could get from the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (see left). The pair combined for 67.3% of the Thunder's scoring for the game, and they did so by shooting 55.6% from the floor. They also hit six of 10 attempts from behind the arc and a tidy 80% of their free throws. Though Westbrook and Durant had the ball in their hands most of the night for the Thunder, the duo was incredibly efficient as well. They came up particularly big in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of the Thunder's last 15 points as they held off a run from the scrappy Nuggets. Though we've lumped them together as the Stat Line of the Day, each player had fantastic individual lines as well. Westbrook was great all-around for the Thunder, with 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Durant (like usual) had a monster scoring night against Denver, pouring in 41 points to go along with 9 rebounds and a couple assists. In the preview of this series, I predicted that Durant's scoring dominance against the Nuggets would be the difference in such a close matchup--and so far that has held true.
C. Paul (NO): 33 points (11-18 FG), 14 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 turnovers vs. Lakers
Though not on the same level stat-wise as Durant and Westbrook, Chris Paul turned in a performance for the Hornets that might have been even more impressive. Considering he was playing the tall, experienced, and deep Los Angeles Lakers, the fact that Chris Paul led his team to a nine-point road victory proves why he just might be the best point guard in the NBA. He needed only 18 field goals to score 33 points for the game, and he did so by shooting 61.1% from the floor. Paul also racked up 14 assists on 30 field goals by his Hornets teammates--that's 46.7%. He even managed seven rebounds and four steals from the point guard position, while only turning the ball over twice. Given that he had the ball in his hands for such a large percentage of the game, his 7 assists/turnover makes Paul's afternoon in Los Angeles that much more impressive.
C. Billingsley (LA Dodgers): 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 11 K, 2 BB vs. Cardinals
Apologies to Trevor Cahill, but the best pitching performance yesterday most certainly came from Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers. The Dodgers' starter was utterly dominant against the surging Cardinals, shutting them out on two hits in eight innings, while striking out 11. This was a tough-luck no decision for Billingsley, as his offense didn't put any runs on the board until the ninth inning. However, he kept the Cardinals and their prolific top of the order at bay all game. Billingsley snapped Ryan Theriot's eight-game hit streak, and Colby Rasmus struck out twice en route to an 0-4 day. Billingsley's most impressive inning of the game came in his final frame, when an error and a sacrifice bunt moved a runner to third with only one out. Billingsley, though, with his pitch count already above 100, reared back and got a strike out and a fly out to end the threat.